Category:Epitaph of Twilight novels

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.hack//Epitaph of Twilight


Miu Kawasaki


Translation: Xithyl_kykorl and Endrance

Prolouge: Fragment

The curtain of night falls down, a thick fog surrounds us. It was at this place called Alba Lake, which rests at the center of this world, enshrouded in a deafening silence. At the naval of the lake amidst the perfectly still waters---lies a cathedral which poses a myriad of questions. When was it built? For what purpose? Who made it? Why such a place? With its origins left unknown, here it stands in total isolation.


All that is known is the cathedral's name, Hulle Granz Cathedral.


Tonight, within this cathedral rumored to be of ancient times, an unexpected meeting has begun. Helba, queen of the dark, beckons. Apeiron, king of light, heeds Helba's call. The two greatest powers of this world, light and darkness, were locked in a seemingly unending conflict.


---They share a long history. Long before man was born, from a strong wind overseen by the twilight on the 10th month, the land and the skies birthed two spirits: Light and Dark. That was them. Right from birth, light and dark have fought continually for sole control of the regions. It was then that man was born amidst the conflict, but coexistence was impossible, as humans created shadow. Although they appear the same, man has shadow, while the spirits have none. Once mankind realized this difference, it turned against those without shadows and persecuted them. Several of their companions were overcome, and disappeared. It once seemed that the struggle between the three would last forever ... but the spirits’ defeat was definitive. Now, although spirits were born quite frequently, the humans multiplied and thrived. So the spirits created a world for themselves far away from the humans, and since then, the conflict between light and darkness had calmed.


But what would drive the feuding leaders of light and darkness--- even within this lull, to meet?


Disaster had brought these two together. The spirit realm was coming to the brink of extinction due to the Cursed Wave. The fight could not continue with this Cursed Wave, literally a wave in form, steadily advancing. From where it comes, it swallows everything in its path, sweeping even the face of the earth before fading away.


Because of this,


“I wish to have a discussion with you about the Twilight Dragon, and the cursed wave...”


If Helba had not addressed the matter in such urgency, Apeiron would likely not have heeded the call.


“It might be a trap.”


Apeiron’s adviser, Fili the White felt uneasy, however, Apeiron blew off Fili’s concerns and prepared to leave for Hulle Granz Cathedral.


The Twilight Dragon that Helba speaks of is rumored to be the embodiment of what would save them from the Cursed Wave. Its existence is an uncertainty---but for these peoples to live on, immediate countermeasures would be necessary. The spirits have held onto a legend regarding the Twilight Dragon, but, perhaps humanity could clarify the obscurities in it's foundation. Right now this legend is the only thing the spirits have to believe in, unclear as it may be. “When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits.”




“...Ra.”


A faint far off voice resounds.


“...Lara.”


This time it was very clear. Someone was calling my name.


A warm, gentle voice.


I slowly rub my eyes trying to shake off the pink haze enshrouding them.


“Lara, we’ll be there soon.”


Papa says softly to me as I'm still half asleep in the passenger seat of his car.


“I’m sorry, I fell asleep.”


Dad smiles as he says, “No need to be sorry”.


“I suppose... I just think it's terrible falling asleep when I kind of forced you to take me along.”


“Don't worry about it, really. I'm really happy you'd come with me.”


I just smiled at Papa. It made me feel good that he was happy.


“It's been quite a while since you last met your uncle, hasn't it?”


“A WHILE?! But, I'm pretty sure...”


“Papa, I've never met him before”


“That's where you'd be wrong. Once, back when you were very small, he came to our house to play”


“He did?”


“There's no way I’d remember that!”


Papa smiled bitterly when I said that.


“I remember he would look at you strangely.”


“Strangely..?”


“Well, you were just born, and I guess it was the first time he'd seen a newborn.”


“Well, it's not like he sees babies everywhere he goes.”


“That’s true.”


I will be fourteen years old this year. Although I may still look like a child to Papa and to the world-----I think i’m more in an ambiguous age. Neither a child, nor an adult. But, that isn’t a bad thing either.


“I’m kind of excited to meet him.”


I said as I stretched out, and rolled down the car window.


The breeze flows into the car with the smell of grass and humid air. It’s pretty different from the smell of the sea breeze that runs along the coastline, but it still smells pleasant in its own way. I take a deep breath of the forest air. Because I live by the sea, the rich smell of forests like this is a rare chance for me.


“By the way, did you do some research on it yesterday as well?”


Papa asked as I glanced at him through the reflection in the window. He always watches straight ahead when he's driving. He's done this ever since the time he scraped the car against a wall because he'd gotten so engrossed in conversation. Even when he's stopped at a red light he won't look at you. His face will be full of expression, but always facing straight ahead. It's as if he's speaking to the windshield.


“I did, but it was all a wasted effort. The site with the original text is gone, and then I lost all track of time. I don’t even know what kind of words to search so I can find it.”


“‘The Epitaph of Twilight’... Huh”


Papa mumbled in scrutiny


Every night I was studying into Emma Wielant’s web novel “The Epitaph of Twilight,” completely starving myself of sleep. For an amateur writer, the first section can be explained in fairly generic terms.


Epitaph of Twilight --- the story of how the Cursed Wave eroded the world of the shadowless spirits and brought them to the brink of total destruction. This wave was only gradually encroaching on them, but there was certainly no fighting it. During this desperation, the world’s two great powers, Apeiron king of light, and Helba queen of the dark, determined they would unite in a mutual effort to face the wave. In that world, there was a legend that states, “When the wave arises, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon”.


The tale starts in a windmill shed in the middle of a cornfield, where a young girl, known locally as the Little Witch, rescues a buck with no shadow. The girl believes in the legend, and now she, along with Fili the White, Bith the Black and two shadow-bearing individuals leave in search of the Twilight Dragon. And it’s gonna be a looooooooong fucking journey….


This story, however, has no ending. It's still incomplete because the author, Emma Wielant, died in an accident before she could finish it. Without her around, the story has been swallowed up by the ocean we call the internet. Seems there's no one to preserve some no-name hobbyist writer's work. It's hard to discern the real original writings from all the fake copies.


The copy I have on hand goes from the opening portion to midway in their adventure. It's also in a worm-eaten state with some chapters written in fine detail, and then others I can only understand the subtitles.


The only reason I got into studying such an underground novel is because I knew Emma Wielant’s name from bulletin boards on the net.


Wielant didn't lead any ordinary life (getting caught up with the troubles of inheriting a fortune, and she even had a boyfriend twenty years older than her!), and apparently not long before the accident she had gotten absorbed in the philosophy of anthroposophy.


She’s like the heroine of some drama, or a tragedy. At least that's what I certainly thought studying into her life. I think it's because the book was written by such a person that I got so interested to look into it.


Also, this anthroposophy is supposedly aiming to prove the purpose and existence of ghosts and other such things unexplainable by non human sciences. I mean, I guess if you believe in a sixth sense or the circle of life and rebirth, but personally, I don't.


“There it is”


I tried to find where Papa was looking at. Amongst the evenly spaced lots was a house--- the ONLY house that had an unkempt neglected lawn. Even with the sunlight shining down, it was a depressing sight, like it was abandoned.


“...he lives here?”


Papa noticed the scowl on my face and chuckled bitterly.


“He does. Place is just lacking a few repairs is all.”


“How does it get like this when he lives by himself….”


“I'm sure his job is keeping him too busy to worry about it.”


Surveying the surrounding area there are beautiful, well kept lawns behind quaint white picket fences, and I can faintly hear elated laughter coming from within some of the houses. Then, at the end of these places stands my uncle's queer looking house.


I've heard that my uncle from my dad's side is quite the famous programmer. Anyone who has delved into that realm has at least heard of this amazing engineer. On top of his genius in programming, he also has a deep obsession with anthroposophy, and seems to have met Emma through it.


"Y'know it really surprises me. Despite working at the forefront of that world of 1s and 0s, he's still managed to keep his obsession with that philosophy a secret."


I can't tell whether or not he's being serious with that bitter smile plastered across his face.


It almost feels as though my uncle has excommunicated from us for the past several months, but I hear that he often forgets to do even basic things when he gets fixated on something, and ends up focusing exclusively on that. Papa was always prone to worrying about things, and tried to check up on my uncle without admitting to it. After all, it isn't exactly a short trip. On top of that, Papa isn't that skilled of a driver, which made him quite nervous about the trip, (and I might have been a little concerned myself.) ...My uncle also seems pretty interesting, so, I felt a bit obligated to go with him.


“Well, let’s go.”


Papa stopped the car in front of the house, leaned over and prodded me to go. I went with him up to a door overgrown with ivy and rung an antiquated doorbell. But, I’m pretty sure it didn’t ring. Probably because when I pressed the button, it just lodged itself inward.


“Anyone home?”


Papa leaned his head down, forcibly pulled the button back out and tried pushing it again. At that moment --- the door creaked open.


“...who are you?”


It made me flinch. A tall, lanky man’s figure half emerged from around the door --- he looked at Papa, then glanced at me.


“Brother…?”


The man --- my uncle, muttered and sighed.


“Yup. Now, don’t be a pain after I came all this way to see you.”


Uncle made a sour face and looked back at me again. It was apparent we weren’t going to receive a warm greeting, but I introduced myself formally.


“Nice to meet you. I’m Lara Hoerwick”


“...?”


Uncle furrowed his brow. His silence begged Papa for an explanation.


“My daughter. You visited us back when she was first born”


As if searching for a distant memory, he just fixated his eyes on me. He had long silvery hair, an almost abnormally worn out look to him, yet his amber eyes never lost their glimmer. Papa has the same silver hair, but you’d never suspect them to be brothers just by that. And I don’t think they look like grandma or grandpa at all. Maybe distant relatives at best…. Even then the resemblance isn’t there.


Although he continued to stare so rudely, I just smiled at him. I’m not sure if I’m smiling all too nicely though. Uncle finally swapped his gaze back over to Papa. He probably still doesn’t remember, and reasonably so. I'm sure that I look nothing like I did as a baby, after all, that was 14 years ago.


“Ah, alright. Come on.”


Uncle said as he turned back into his house. Papa and I exchanged glances. As uncle disappeared into the house I whispered,


“That wasn’t much of a welcome.”


“It’s just the kind of man he is, Lara. Don’t worry.”


“Ugh… you don’t suppose he’s mad about us showing up so suddenly, do you?”


“If he was angry he wouldn’t have told us to come in.”


“... Is it really okay for us to go in?”


Looking inside it was even gloomier yet, like some freaky mansion. I stood there hesitantly and Papa gave his bitter chuckle,


“No chance you’re going back to the car and waiting, huh? Not after he’s invited us in.”


He said, and in we went. From the other end of the hall, uncle looked over his shoulder, and I flinched again as our eyes met.


“Ugh... The heck do you suppose he does here?”


As I stood there thinking, Papa got way ahead of me.


“Hey, wait up!”


In a panic, I ran to catch up.

“Whoa...”


From the look of the outside, I couldn’t begin to imagine how neat and pristine everything is in here. I seriously thought there’d be spider webs spanning the walls and dust everywhere. But no, the living room was even swept up all neatly --- A lone picture stands on top of the cupboard. In a room with the newest TV and audio system set up, that picture was the only thing that looked ancient.


“Surprisingly clean in here, huh?”


Uncle says as Papa preemptively sits in a leather sofa. Uncle just laughs in self derision from the kitchen attached to the living room.


“Why don’t you have a seat too, Lara?”


I sit down next to Papa.


(He laughed...)


I was surprised by this guy. This uncle, standing in the sun rays shining into the kitchen, was a completely different person from before.


(A shockingly nice man.)


He was kinda likeable. Uncle walked back into the living room, and the smell of hot coffee fills the air.


“There’s more in the pot if you want.”


He lines up three coffee cups on the glass table, the one for Papa being filled with straight black.


(I don’t mind coffee, but it needs milk or sugar to be tolerable...)


To make sure I had something I might be able to drink, he filled my cup with pure white milk.


“Ah.”


The words escaped me without thinking.


“I thought you might rather have milk.”


While saying this, uncle, sitting across from Papa, stood up.


“Oh, yeah that’s fine. I don’t care for straight coffee... Thank you very much.”


And without expression, he sits back down.


“Drink up.”


The cool milk definitely quenched the thirst. The unexpected consideration made me like him even more. Papa, sitting next to me, began talking about his current home situations. Even though we had to have come to check on uncle’s condition, Papa just spoke of the comedic events from recent.


(Not much I can do about that.)


Papa and uncle would exchange glances between themselves. Despite Uncle’s expressionless face, he looked intent on listening to Papa.


(It’s all kinda boring...)


We certainly had nothing but time to burn here as I stared into my now emptied cup. Papa put down his cup.


“Shall we go outside for a bit?”


Uncle noticed Papa get up from his seat. As he stood up to follow, he seemed to be pained. They then both walked over to the door. After seeing uncle out, I asked Papa,


“I don’t suppose... I could go out too?”


“Maybe not. I just thought it might be good we talk outside and get some fresh air instead of staying cooped up in here.”


“Alright then...”


“We’ll only be out for a bit, so maybe turn on the TV or something.”


Papa said and hurried his way out the door. As the door shut behind him the sound resonated throughout the now vacant living room.


“Came all this way just to watch TV...”


I got up to leave the living room and walked over to where I had seen that standing picture frame. Uncle was standing next to a woman in a long black one-piece dress with a parasol and a laced hat, but I couldn’t see her face all that well.


The two of them standing under the radiant sun like that, it makes me think that they would've made a nice couple.


(A picture like that makes me wonder if there aren’t any pictures as magical as this one...)


I turned away from the picture stand and left the living room. Even still, I wanted to know what it is my uncle does around here. Leaving the warm sunlight of the living room, I turned and walked into the gloomy corridor of an entryway. The door at the end of the hall was cracked open slightly, from which a pale blue light was emanating.


“The heck is that?”


I peered into the room. In one corner, there were multiple displays lined up. They had to have been on for the dim light to be shining through the doorway like that. I slowly made my way into the room.


Against the back wall was a bookshelf so tall, that it reached up to the ceiling. Books were even scattered along the floor reaching to the end of a bed, with dust coating everything in sight.


“Is this his study?”


However, the monitors had nothing on them. They just emitted that dim light. Maybe they’re in standby mode.


“...What’s that?”


I then noticed something left in front of one of the monitors. It looked like a thin pair of goggles, and next to that was a game controller.


(Does uncle sport these around?)


I pushed away the piled up books and slowly made my way over. I could see that the goggles were emanating the same faint light as the monitors from within the eye cup. And the light couldn’t have been reflecting off of the monitors, but rather it was being produced by them. Papa’s always fascinated by the latest technology, so if this is some kind of modern video equipment, I should have heard about it from him.


“What could this be...”


Something was playing on this device, and it was making noise, but I couldn’t see what it was. I exited the room to make sure Papa and uncle had not come back in.


“It should be fine if I just take a peek for a little bit.”


I grabbed the goggles and timidly peered inside to see what it was. The picture displayed in the eye cup was an expansive gold-colored wheat field, though the sky was heavy with clouds and mixed with a weird purple color. Not like a thunderstorm, but actually a more unrealistic purple.


(What's this place supposed to be?)


At the far end of this continuous field I saw a windmill. It was pretty easy to see it was operational too. The wind had to be blowing because the wheat was making a rustling noise and began to sway.


It was like nothing I'd ever seen, yet it felt as though I was being absorbed by it. I became uneasy on my feet and a weird feeling overtook me. I needed to do something or I'd fall, so I shot my hand forward onto the desk where the goggles were.


And then something sounded like it fell. It was the controller that had been beside the goggles. As the controller hit the floor, some buttons got pushed and text appeared on one of the monitors.


Fragment


Probably the game's title. Under the game title was some login info. The same text was being displayed from inside the goggles too.


Saya 1.jpg


(Maybe it's played by wearing the goggles?)


I picked up the controller and pushed another button at random.


“...!”


This time some text I know popped up on a different monitor.


“The spirits have held onto a legend regarding the Twilight Dragon--- When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits.”


It’s the Epitaph of Twilight.


I wonder if that means the picture I saw in the goggles is the wheat field the little witch lives in.


I peeked into the goggles again.


(I wonder….)


Maybe this is what uncle was so fixated on for the last several months; making a game based on the Epitaph of Twilight. It's only speculation, but he probably met Emma because of his interest in anthroposophy--- uncle being a programmer, thought he'd try make Emma’s fantasy into a game.


It was just a guess though.


I don't know why, but that's how it seemed to me.


Something in my mind had me certain there was a chance. I don't know if it was inspired by the odd atmosphere of this dark room where the only light came from the monitors, but I shut the door.


Then, as though being lured in, I put the goggles on and grabbed the controller.


(Surely it'd be fine if I just play a little bit.)


Then, as if under some sort of trance, I clicked Login.


Episode 1: Can't Back Real Home

In the center the world of Alba, high above the Hulle Granz Cathedral, a countless number of white doves slowly turn in the sky as a golden light shone down upon them. From a distance, they glowed like an angel’s halo in the veil of fog. A single man in white gazed at this wonderous site by the lakeside, yet he wore a serious expression.


That man is Fili the white.


The confidant of the king of light, Apeiron. The flock of doves, his familiar. Fili had no doubt in his mind that the meeting tonight was a trap, however, Aperion ignored his warning. So, Fili had ordered his familiar to wait above the holy ground despite Apeiron’s wishes.


Normally, he would be by Apeiron’s side --- who would enter the cathedral this evening, however, the meeting specified that only Helba and Apeiron were to attend.


Fili stares at the cathedral blurred by the dense fog, praying that nothing would happen. Long before this lull, the country of darkness consistently launched surprise attacks against the country of light. The country of light was always on the defensive. For the hundreds of years Fili has lived, never once has the country of darkness been invaded. The country of light would retaliate, as soon as everyone had recovered, the country of darkness would launch another surprise attack, leading to yet another battle… It was an endless cycle.


It was a bitter memory to Fili, and one he’d rather not recall. The dense fog swayed behind him in silence, yet showed signs of someone approaching nearby.


“Are you really that worried?”


Fili jumped back swiftly, reading his staff. However, the speaker was shrouded in darkness, unable to be seen.


“...Who are you?”


Fili’s voice trembles in surprise.


”Did I surprise you?”


Said the figure wryly.


“You people of the light always find the darkness to be so terrifying.”


Fili was right on the mark. He raised his voice.


“Show yourself!”


Fili’s staff began to glow brightly.


“Well, aren’t you a lively one?”


Two hands emerge from the darkness, holding what appears to be a pitch black hat, as if he just took it off.


“You’re...”


Before Fili could even look up, that man with slanted eyes had appeared. The man named Bith, who aides Helba, queen of dark.


“Bith the black...?”


“That’s right, Fili the white.”


Fili lowered his staff.


“What did you come here for?”


“That---”


Bith glances over at the doves flying over the cathedral.


“Mind calling them down?”


“Why?”


“This is a meeting between fellow rulers. Something like that would only get in the way.”


“I don’t remember taking orders from you.”


Bith shook his head seemingly annoyed.


“If my queen wanted to, she could easily erase all of them in a single shot, However, she hasn’t. Why do you think that is?”


“...”


“It’s because she doesn’t want to ruin this meeting. I don’t know how the king will answer---but for now, we’ll have to try to get along. If we fought now, this would’ve all been for nothing.”


Fili initially glared at Bith --- But it quickly faded, it was impossible to phase him anyway.


“Do you want to ruin everything by acting off on your own?”


Fili lowered his staff dissolving the last of any spell that remained.


“...I get it.”


Fili muttered, using his staff to draw a pattern on the ground instructing his familiars.


Shortly afterwards, the doves vanished as if melting into darkness.


When Bith saw this, he sat down beside Fili, with Fili casting his eyes down.


“What, are you my supervisor?”


“Are you stupid? We’re going to be called in soon.”


“...?”


“If we go in together, it’ll save us some effort, don’t you think?”


“What do you mean?”


But Bith ignored Fili’s question, and just continued to stare at the cathedral.


After Apeiron saw that Fili’s familiar had dissolved, he turned away from the window, and faced Queen Helba.


“Give me your hand.”


Helba sat across an un-deified pedestal with a smile upon her face, toying with her silky golden hair.


“Shall we continue?”


“Yeah.”


Apeiron leaned up against a window listening attentively to Helba’s story, stroking his stoic beard.


“As I had mentioned earlier, this area has already started to become corrupted. However, the Cursed Wave’s invasion has only just begun. If we act now, there might still be means to retaliate.”


“...Too hard to believe?”


“That’s just the truth of it.”


“So Helba... What do you propose we do?”


“As the letter I set you described. I’d like to start searching for the Twilight Dragon.”


“When the cursed wave doth rise, three shadow-bearing beings will depart in search of the Twilight Dragon that will save the world of the spirits... How much of that legend is true I wonder?”


Helba chuckled to herself over her thoughts, and glanced over at Apeiron.


“You’re acting rather suspicious.”


“You’re the leader of another country. It’s only natural to be cautious.”


“There isn’t much of a difference between carefulness and timidness.”


With her visor shielding her eyes, it wasn’t possible to fully determine the expression of Helba, but with her smile, she was obviously looking down on Apeiron.


“...!”


Apeiron scowls, drawing the sword fashioned on his hip, and points the tip at Helba.


Helba tilts her head, retaining her composure.


“What good does it do to pull that out? Even if I’m dead, the Cursed Wave won’t stop.”


“...”


Helba slowly raised up, and moved in front of Apeiron’s sword without taking a single step. The glamorously slender Helba extended her index finger from the sleeve of her pure white dress, and tapped the tip of the blade.


Both of them tremble as silence fills the room. The crimson blood rolled down Helba’s finger, dripping down to the cobblestone.


Realizing that this silence was a waste of time, Apeiron tightened his grip on his sword, and sighed muttering to himself.


“I’m overlooking a few things.”


Helba licks her finger, and some of the blood dripped down onto her sleeve, yet her smile doesn’t fade.


“Do you have any personnel you can use for the search?”


“Nobody.”


Helba nods in satisfaction to Apeiron’s reply, and walks up to the pedestal. While the pedestal is devoid of deification, it’s still a delight to behold in it’s old fashioned style.


“There’s no time. When those two return, we’ll start our departure.”


“That soon? Hold on a moment. It’ll be a long trip, you should take time to prepare--”


Helba looked back, and interrupted Apeiron.


“Will you be sending Fili? I can be prepared for that. Although, his familiar is flying about, so we should make preparations elsewhere.”


“But...”


“Typical Apeiron.”


Helba says, looking back at the pedestal.


“We have no time. No time to pray to God, nor to run away…”


They continued on --- and at that time, from the windmill standing in the midst of the great wheat field far to the north of cathedral, a sleepy eyed maiden departed.


Seemingly reluctant, the maiden mounted her broom and flew towards the blades of a windmill.


“Saya, surely we’ll fix it today!”


A black cat yells to the maiden from the windmill’s attic window.


“I told you I got it! Don’t yell so early in the morning.”


The maiden’s name was Saya, though in the surrounding area ーー due to her small stature, she’s more commonly known as the Little Witch. She had the special ability of understanding the languages of flora and fauna alike. She loved peace more than any other, and had a far deeper love for the plants and animals.


Also, the name of the black cat that called out to Saya is Vesper. He lives inside the windmill with Saya, and could be considered as her very knowledgeable partner.


Saya’s work these past few days hasn’t been milling wheat as usual, instead she’s been working to repair a broken windmill blade. Until the broken blade is repaired, they’re unable to mill the wheat.


It was when she mounted on her broom, Saya tried to repair the blade.


The wheat field behind them began to stir.


Saya turned around, her gaze meeting the wheat field, and listened to its voice.


“There’s something there!”


Saya found something in the middle of the wheat field, and immediately gripped her broom tight, and flew over.


With the wheat field lined up so neatly, it was easy to spot any oddities within it.


Saya flies down, carefully drawing near where the wheat was tarnished. Noticing that it lathered in the thick crimson of blood, she readied her wand.


“How terrible!”


In front of Saya’s eyes, a 6 legged silver buck had collapsed. The wounded buck weakly raised his head, and looked over at Saya.


“Who would do this...”


Saya rushed over to the buck, her spell released a warm light enveloping the buck, healing him.


“Your wheat is... I deeply apologize.”


The buck said breathlessly, putting his head back on the ground. Saya gently pets the bucks head.


“It’s alright, the wheat will be fine. However, I’m more worried about you.”


Seemingly fatal wounds covered the buck’s body. Saya’s spell wasn’t powerful enough to immediately close them all --- So, she tightly wrapped her cloak around where the buck was bleeding.


“It’ll take a little bit... But if you rest for 2 or 3 days, you should make a full recovery.”


Hearing Saya’s words, the buck opened up his eyes wide, staring at Saya with their sky blue hue.


“...?”


“It’s not a good time to rest. I have to leave at once.”


The buck says as he shakily shifts his feet to stand up, and looks up at the sky.


“Where do you need to go? I can close your wounds to some extent, but flying in your condition is out of the question.”


“Thank you. Someday, I will surely return your kindness.”


The buck with trembling legs proceeded into a gallop, running off far into the sky.


“Wait a moment.”


Saya’s voice resounds in vain.


“Wait!”


Saya mounted her broom, chasing after the buck.


The wheat field stirs, ensnaring Saya’s broom, holding her to the ground.




I stood amongst the expanse of a wheat field. The gentle breeze, and the sway it wrought, the wheat’s movement felt too real. The windmill that looks so far away, the breeze that brushes along my cheeks, everything in this world, it’s all as if it was actually real.


I wouldn’t think I’m looking at this from the goggles. I reached out my hand to touch the wheat around me, that stretched to my height. The wheat rustled vibrantly, and it felt so lifelike.


It wasn’t like using a controller at all, I moved however i wanted.


“My uncle sure is incredible.”


Isn’t this the first time somebody’s made a game where you can feel things? Once again, I see just how great my uncle is.


If this is The Epitaph of Twilight’s prologue, then there must be something in the windmill. Maybe, I’ll even get to meet someone from the epitaph.


Full of hope, I rushed over to the windmill. I avoided the snarls in the wheat, and thanks to that, the way to the windmill was clear enough for me to run straight over to it.


I run out of breath.


Exercise isn’t exactly my strong point. I arrived at the windmill, but, I was completely out of breath. I felt exhaustion spread throughout my entire body as if I really ran.


“What even is this…”


(This is a game, right…? Why am I so tired?)


I grumbled, as a black cat approached me. One with delicate, soft fur and a nice sweet scent. That cat, with clear blue eyes, peered up at my face with a seemingly puzzled expression.


“What are you doing?”


“I-It talked!”


I subconsciously flinched. The black cat stares at me, and tilts his head.


“Ah, I get it…”


(It’s only natural it can talk because it’s a game.)


Surely, a black cat would’ve appeared in the Epitaph of Twilight. One of the shadowed ones, The Little Witch Saya, she had a black cat as her familiar.


(Umm, his name was…)


“Vesper!”


In response to me calling out Vesper’s name, he only frowned. He may be a cat, but it’s easy to tell that he’s frowning.


Based on what Vesper said earlier, the owner of this windmill, Little Witch Saya should be somewhere around here.


When surveying the surroundings, Vesper called out to me.


“Saya… Did you hit your head?”


“Huh?”


“You’re not acting like yourself.”


“Uhh…”


I’m sure he’s talking to me, but he called me Saya.


“I’m Saya?”


Vesper nodded.


“And you’re Vesper?”


Vesper nodded again.


“Did you lose your memory?”


“Wai-Wait a moment. Why does this conversation keep going?”


“Why…? I don’t understand what you mean.”


“This is a game, isn’t it?”


“What’s a game?”


“Hmm… Something like a manufactured world made for entertainment.”


“Manufactured? Wait, Saya, I’m not sure I understand.”


The cat got angry.


(What do you mean?)


There are only a few games where you could have legitimate conversations. But as far as I know, that only happens in online games. In games where other players talk back and forth, exchange information, and advance the conversation through the internet. Other than that, I don’t know of any game where a character could respond to anything I say.


“Can I pet you?”


“If it’ll bring you back to your usual self, then go ahead.”


I slowly reach out for Vesper’s head.


“So warm!”


My hand brushed across Vesper’s soft fur. His fluffy fur was oddly lifelike, so I made sure to run my hand down his body.


“Saya, did you fall off your broom?”


“Broom?”


“You were using it to repair the blades, right?”


Vesper said looking up at the windmill. I follow Vesper’s gaze to see the windmill’s blades utterly torn.


“They aren’t fixed…”


“Yeah, they’re completely broken.”


“Completely broken, no that’s not it. If that’s the case then… You’ve skipped out on repairs, haven’t you?”


I frantically shook my head to Vesper, who seemed to be on the verge of snapping.


“For repairs and whatever else, I’m here now.”


“Huh?”


Vesper looked over at me with a confused look wrought across his face. Hoping that he might finally hear me out, I began explaining everything to him. About how i secretly started playing a game I found in my uncle’s room that might’ve been based off the story of The Epitaph of Twilight. How I appeared in that wheat field after logging in, and thought the story would progress if I approached the windmill, but didn’t expect to talk to the game characters so freely. I tried to explain it in a way he could understand.


“So then Saya-- you came here from a different world?”


“My real name is Lara Hoerwick. But… if my name is Saya in this game, then calling me Saya is fine.”


“I still don’t know what a ‘game’ is.”


“The game. I just explained that…”


Vesper went into deep thought about this.


“Of course…”


While I waited for Vesper to call out for me, I examined myself. My hair was still strawberry blonde, and even fluffy but straightened in the same way. I still had the same hour long polish to my nails. My chest's size was still pitiful, my arms and legs were still slender, everything about myself that I could see was exactly like the real me.


The only difference was the clothes. The pointed hat and one piece dress complete with a cloak, all in black, with some lavender accents.


I pinched my cheek. It hurt.


“Hey.”


When I realized something was wrong, I spoke to Vesper about it. My voice trembled.


“What kind of girl is Saya?”


“What do you mean by that?”


“...?”


“Are the Saya you know, and the Saya right here the same?”


Vesper looked me over intently.


“I don’t think there’s any different.”


“I see.”


I take another look at my body. It certainly felt like it was mine, but upon close inspection, these were the hands of a hard worker.


(Maybe I’m thinking about it too much…)


But it did hurt when I pinched myself. There is a sense of pain.


“...Hey”


Vesper looks up at me.


“Did you understand it all?”


“If this world was fabricated, then where are you from?”


(Where am I from?)


“From the world where the people who made this world are.”


“In what way?”


(In what way?)


I muse over Vesper’s words. The answer should be obvious, but it all seemed so hazy.


(How did I come here…)


My temples started to hurt, so I rubbed it with one of my hands. And of course, because of that I couldn’t remember what I need to remember, which only lead to my heart beginning to throb from my impatience.


“Uhh, Well, I wore something like goggles… Picked up a controller… Then selected Log In from the display…”


My voice was trembling. The more I tried to remember, the more it made my head hurt.


“Where is that?”


I tilt my head at Vesper’s question.


(Where?)


I look at where I should be holding the controller. Of course, it’s not in the game. I touch my face, but I don’t have the goggles.


(Where is it?!)


I shook my head, but there was no sign that the goggles were out of place. I reached out to touch the display that should be right in front of me, but there was nothing there.


“It’s gone! It’s not there!”


(How did this happen?)


I completely search my whole body, but all I could feel was the gentleness of cloth. I look around flustered, it shouldn’t have fallen off. But, since I first logged into this game, I didn’t feel like I was holding a controller.


“Gone…”


My vision blurs.


My back gives out, and I fall down on the ground.


“Where am I?”


They dry ground soaks up a single tear that rolled down my face.


“This… This is a game, isn’t it…?”


In my confusion, Vesper stared at me completely bewildered. Vesper peeks at my face, and sits down beside me to hear me out.


“…Can I help you sort everything out?”


I nod silently.


“You’ve come from another world that’s different from this one.”


I nod again.


“You came here with the help of some kind of tools, but you don’t have them anymore.”


“…All gone.”


“And without them, you can’t go back to your original world.”


“Maybe… Who knows? I certainly don’t.”


I shook my head.


Even if I had the goggles and controller, could I even choose to logout? Considering I haven’t seen or felt either of them since coming to this world, I don’t even know if they could be used let alone found here.


“You have no memory of being Saya?”


“None, I’m Lara Hoerwick.”


“Can you cast any spells?”


“Spells..?”


“Saya’s really good at recovery magic. Can you use any?”


“I can’t do that at all. I don’t even know a little…”


Vesper hung down his head and sighed.


“Then how about the voices? Can you hear them?”


“I can hear your voice.”


“No, not mine, the voices of the wheat.”


“Wheat?”


“Communicating with the plants and animals. It’s an ability Saya has.”


I listened closely, but I could only hear the sound of the wind.


“…I can’t hear them.”


“You usually can’t hear them.”


Vesper said with a bitter smile.


“Let’s go.”


Vesper stood up, and walked towards the wheat field where I came from.


“Wait up.”


I stand back up with trembling legs, and chase after Vesper.


“Listen closely.”


While standing beside Vesper, I watched as the wheat field spread out before me. I don’t really know what’s going on, but I suddenly don’t feel like I’m alone anymore, just like Vesper said.


I slowly closed my eyes.


(It’d be nice if this was just a dream…)


The wind ceased, as my ears were wrapped in a painful silence.


(If only I could hear a computer’s fan right now…)


I take a deep breath.


My hopes were quickly dashed as a faint sound brushed across my ears. The sound of someone asking for help.


“Huh?”


I cover my ears.


“What?!”


All the wheat in front of me suddenly started to stir.


My eyes opened up wide in surprise.


“Vesper!”


Vesper stood beside me staring at a single point in the wheat field while wearing a serious expression.


“Now, I can hear something--”


“Of course!”


The wheat only continued to rustle even more. Even though there’s no wind at all, all the wheat seems to be gravitating towards the point that Vesper’s staring at.


“Wh-what?”


“Did it stop? ...Wait a minute!”


Before I could say anything, Vesper was already running towards the wheat field.


I chased after Vesper, and thanks to the way the wheat parted, I was able to chase after him easily, without ever losing sight of him.


As I ran through the wheat field, I noticed the strong smell of blood. I catch up to Vesper who had stopped a little further in, and try to catch my breath.


“Vesper! What the heck is this--”


In front of Vesper was a blood ridden buck, that had collapsed.


“What even…”


My legs froze up.


The wheat surrounding the buck was stained red with blood. The buck seems to be covered in scratches, blood gushing out and soaking into the ground.


Saya 2.jpeg

Episode 2: Imbroglio

Saya 3.jpeg

Episode 3: Amnesia

Episode 4: Raid

Episode Real: At The Time

Episode 5: Discord

Episode 6: Lost

Episode 7: Merge

Episode 8: Riddle

Episode 9: Twilight Dragon

Epilogue: "The World"

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